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A year of rusty patched bumble bee observations - still hope in the core area for the species
Midwest Region, August 15, 2018
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August 2017 rusty patched bumble bee connectivity model based on observations from 2000 to August 15, 2017.
August 2017 rusty patched bumble bee connectivity model based on observations from 2000 to August 15, 2017. - Photo Credit: USFWS
August 2018 rusty patched bumble bee connectivity model based on observations from 2000 to August 15, 2018.
August 2018 rusty patched bumble bee connectivity model based on observations from 2000 to August 15, 2018. - Photo Credit: USFWS

After a year of new observations for the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis), the core extant range of the species continues to grow.


Since this species was listed as endangered in the Spring of 2017, we have seen new observations occur primarily in southwest Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, although new populations continue to be discovered in Iowa and Virginia.

The number of individual bees sighted are also up from previous years. The increased number of observations is likely a factor of increased survey effort and awareness, but could also be a sign of a good production year for the bumble bee colonies. In 2016, a total of 48 individual bees were reported across the entire range of the species. In 2017 the number of individual bees sighted increased to 191 across 102 sites; many observations were of a single bee observed in a particular location. So far in 2018, there have been over 300 individual rusty patched bumble bees reported, and many locations are documenting four to 12 individuals observed at a time. This could be an indicator of a healthier local colony that is producing more worker bees than in past years or that the observation point may be in closer proximity to the colony. Rusty patched bumble bee colony nests are thought to be located underground, such as in abandoned rodent burrows.

For more information on this species and how you can help in the conservation efforts, please see our website at:
https://www.fws.gov/Midwest/endangered/insects/rpbb/


rusty patched bumble bee information
https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/rpbb/
Contact Info: Andrew Horton, 612-725-3548 (ext. 2208), andrew_horton@fws.gov
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